Flavours of March

March is the real beginning of spring. Blackbirds and thrushes announce the fact by singing stronger than ever while the robin puffs out his chest to fight in fields and gardens countrywide to protect his territory.  

In the kitchen, we welcome the new leaves of the sorrel, chervil and spinach. Popping out around this time, these young greens have a tender texture but a strong flavour.

The big news in March is the start of the asparagus season. Since January, we’ve had the early white asparagus coming from Cavaillon, but the real start of the French asparagus season is now. Our supplier in the Loire valley produces the best. L’Angevine asparagus – white,  and green – come from the best terroir and are just stunning! Crispy, sweet and with the right balance of bitterness, for us these are perfect. We’re also looking forward to getting some English asparagus too this year.

Spring is a busy period as much of the produce we eat in summer is being readied now – berries are in blossom, and summer vegetables are being sown or planted out. Mesclun salad is entering its best season. Sown in the first warm moments of the year, the earliest crop always has a dense flavour with more crunch.

Wild mushroom are on their way too! Morels and the chicken of the woods mushrooms start their growth, but the March mushroom is on the full season. Very fragile but very tasty, they create the perfect mushroom side dish to go with the last menus of winter.

For fruit, late navel oranges and blood oranges are at their best in March, and we can still find kiwis, Pink Lady apples and Yorkshire forced rhubarb. The next new crop will come from the southern hemisphere – New Zealand and Australia.

European strawberries are now at their peak of flavour and the first gariguettes aren’t far away either. Peaches and apricots from Morocco are also on their way ready to eat.

Winter veg is coming to an end but make the most of them as they are now at their most flavourful. Carrots, potatoes, turnips, onion, winter-resistant leeks, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts and other winter cabbages will never taste better than they do right now – or be a better price. Enjoy.